Even as many people in the country are having a tough time to get a proper water supply this summer, many children in various parts of Bihar's Bhojpur district have developed physical deformities due to contaminated water.
The water in the region allegedly contains elements such as arsenic.
The available water in this region has become a curse, as dozens of children are born here with several physical deformities; missing limbs or partial or complete blindness.
There are many villages in the district where people are suffering from such congenital birth defects.
Lamenting callousness of the local authorities, members of the affected families narrate their plight.
"The child was born blind. It is due to the consumption of water containing arsenic. The government has taken no action regarding this. There is a bore-well in our village and we don't know why it is happening. The government is not paying attention to our problems," said Manjay Singh, father of a blind child.
Some villagers say that there has been no help forthcoming despite visit by some researchers to test the water.
According to local authorites, anything causing this problem in the region can be confirmed only after a thorough investigation.
"Whether it is due to the presence of arsenic in water or something else that is causing such deformities, it can only be found once it is investigated. It can also be due to lead that is found in water. It can also be that arsenic and lead are not present in the water and there are other reasons to it. It is an illness in itself and a developmental effect," said Kawshal Kishor Labh, the Civil Surgeon of Arrah city in Bhojpur district.
Doctors say that the number of children having congenital defects due to arsenic contamination in water may be be much higher than presently known.
Water contamination by elements such as arsenic, sulphur, phosphorus, etc., in many parts of rural India has caused defects, deformities and chronic ailments in the locals.
According to a 1999 study by America's National Academy of Sciences, arsenic in drinking water causes bladder, lung and skin cancer, and may cause kidney and liver cancer. The study also found that arsenic harms the central and peripheral nervous systems, as well as heart and blood vessels, and causes serious skin problems. It also may cause birth defects and reproductive problems.